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Beau Howell: Trinity hoops' major inspiration

Trinity freshman Beau Howell received an opportunity, but so did his team

Posted: March 7, 2014 10:46 p.m.
Updated: March 7, 2014 10:46 p.m.

Trinity Classical Academy freshman Beau Howell (4) has made a huge impact on his teammates this season. The Knights play today for the CIF-Southern Section Division VI championship.

 

The seconds were ticking down.

Just single digits were on the clock in the fourth quarter of the semifinals of the CIF-Southern Section Division VI semifinals.

Beau Howell took a pass to the left of the basket.

As his feet left the ground and his arms rose with the basketball in his hands, his Trinity Classical Academy teammates and coaches rose off the bench. So did the Trinity parents in the stands at Santa Clarita Christian School’s gymnasium that Feb. 28.

The ball left Beau’s hands and squeezed into the cylinder.

Then it squeezed out.

The buzzer sounded and Beau raised his arm in celebration.

Beau’s teammates ran to join him.

The parents cheered.

For a missed shot.

“It’s definitely the highlight of all the basketball year,” says Trinity junior point guard Ryan Brooks.

Beau didn’t miss the shot, it turns out.

He took the shot. And people celebrated because of that.

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Beau Howell is on the Trinity Classical Academy boys basketball team that plays today for the Division VI championship against Desert Chapel at Godinez High in Santa Ana.

He likely won’t play in a game with such immense significance.

Beau has autism.

He has played in nine games this season and has taken 11 shots and is yet to score.

But the fact that he is on the team is enough to make a family appreciative, teammates enlightened and a school proud.

“My husband and I think it’s changed Beau’s life,” says Beau’s mother, Megan. “He’s respected and included to an extent where he feels like one of the other guys. He wears his jersey on game days on Fridays. He’s in the basketball team picture. He sits on the bench.”

Megan Howell is the principal of Trinity’s Imago Dei School — an educational program for children with developmental and learning disabilities. There are just 12 students in Imago Dei (Latin for “image of God”).

Beau is one of them.

He has played basketball since seventh grade and was on Trinity’s junior high team last year.

Trinity varsity coach John Brooks knew of Beau’s love for the game and approached Megan on how he could make him part of the varsity team.

The first offer was to have him wear a coach’s shirt and sit on the bench.

“That was very appealing to him to be in a support role, but pretty quickly he decided he wanted to be on the team,” Megan recalls. “He didn’t want to be a glorified assistant coach.”

John didn’t think twice about giving Beau a spot on the team, even though there was a lot riding on this season.

Trinity lost in last year’s Division VI championship team, but returned almost the whole team for the 2013-14 season.

There have been times when Beau’s autism has been visible.

He left the bench once for a bathroom break, which prompted a referee to come over and ask the Trinity coaching staff why he did that.

He’s a hugger, so he hugs teammates rather than high-fives.

But he has not once negatively affected the team, John says.

In fact, it’s the contrary.

John says Beau has given his team maturity because they are learning early the value of helping their fellow man and putting their teammate first.

Ryan Brooks has been his peer mentor at school and makes sure Beau dresses the same as his teammates during game days.

Ryan looks after him on the court and off.

Trinity sophomore guard Andrew Pabalan thought of Beau when there was a question on a final exam of one of his classes.

The question was: “How has your world view been impacted by someone?”

“I mentioned Beau,” Pabalan says. “It’s amazing to me how Beau, he’s so faithful to our team. He goes to all our games. I feel bad because I wish Beau was in our position because he’s so loyal and at the games, supporting us. I feel that’s something amazing about Beau.”

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The word is “opportunity” and John Brooks and Megan Howell use it differently.

“Beau couldn’t earn the opportunity,” Megan says. “He’s been given the opportunity out of the graciousness of what our school is doing and John’s desire to extend himself and include our students like Beau. We didn’t expect Beau to ever play. He was on the bench and (assistant coach Jeremy) Haggerty walked up to him and said, ‘Beau, are you ready for your moment?’”

It’s not Beau with the opportunity, John says. It’s the team.

“Most teams don’t have this opportunity to have a Beau, to have a player like Beau suit up and be on the bench with them,” John says. “When he’s there, yes we’re thinking about the game and competing and winning, but there’s that extra concern of having Beau there and wanting him to get in the game. That’s really special.”

Beau’s appearances have come in blowouts.

And since this Trinity team is a championship-caliber team, he’s almost reached double digits in games.

The Knights have the opportunity to get him in today if they’re at their best.

Beau says his teammates and coaches are like family.

“They support me. ‘Go Beau,’” he says.

After the ball left his hands against Laguna Blanca, he had one thought.

“It was going to go in,” he recalls.

It didn’t matter that the ball didn’t go in.

“Everyone jumped all over me,” was his next memory.

And that made him feel one thing.

“Happy,” he says.

cosborne

@signalscv.com

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